BAGUIO CITY – The city permits and licensing division uncovered the e-bingo operation in an establishment along Marcos highway was endorsed by city officials pursuant to an unnumbered resolution.
Brail Van Reyes, newly appointed city permits and licensing officer, said the city government issued permits to the regular bingo operations at the Baguio Center Mall and SM City Baguio while an electronic bingo permit was issued to T2 RAF Gaming Station based on the permit issued by the Philippine Amusement Corporation (PAGCOR).
“We issued permits to the regular bingo parlors at the C enter Mall and SM because they were simply renewals while we issued an electronic bingo permit to the duly authorized corporation based on the PAGCOR permit they were able to obtain,” Reyes said.
Attached to the PAGCOR permit of T2 RAF Gaming Station was an unnumbered resolution signed by ten members of the city council that was purportedly approved on 25 March 2014 which falls on a Tuesday and not a Monday which was supposed to be the regular session of the city council.
The unnumbered resolution was entitled ‘interposing no objection to the request of Mr. Rafael A. Tabora to put up an electronic bingo outlet as authorized by the PAGCOR to be situated at Ceterpoint Plaza, Bakakeng Central barangay, Marcos highway, Baguio City, subject to existing zoning ordinance and other laws, ordinances and administrative issuances affecting the operation of bingo games in the city.”
Subsequently, Those who signed the unnumbered resolution were the late Vice Mayor Daniel T. Fariñas, former councilor and now Vice Mayor Edison R. Bilog, councilors Elmer O. Datuin, Faustino A. Olowan, Elaine D. Sembrenao, Fred L. Bagbagen, Roberto C. Ortega, Richard A. Cariño, Joel A. Alangsab and Michael L. Lawana. Councilor Peter Fianza, whose name was included as a signatory to the resolution, did not sign while councilors Leandro B. Yangot, Jr., Betty Lourdes F. Tabanda and Isabelo Cosalan, Jr. Were not included as signatories.
On 14 April 2014, Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, using the unnumbered resolution as his premise, wrote a letter addressed to Hon. Cristino L. Naguiyat, Jr., PAGCOR Chairman and Chief Executive officer, stating among others that he does not interpose no objection to Mr. Tabora’s request to put up an electronic bingo outlet as authorized by PAGCOR, provided, that the applicant had the necessary permit from the amusement corporation as well as to ensure that the place of operation will continue in a place which is 200 meters away from any church, schoolbuilding and government offices.
Under the revised PAGCOR Charter, which sanctions the operation of casinos and bingo stations nationwide, interested operators of such kinds of amusement must first secure the consent of the host local government through a certificate of no objection to be issued by concerned local officials.
Earlier, Bishop Carlito Cenzon urged the city goverment to close the operation of e-bingo establishmentsin the city which have reportedly mushroomed because it is nhow affecting the morals of the people and the state of the city as a supposed anti-gambling city.
He reported based on concerned citizens that brought to his attention the presence of e-bingo stations in the city, there are more than 50 machines being operated in Center Mall, 84 machines inside the SM mall and more than 156 machines in the station located along Marcos highway.
It can be recalled that the city council passed several resolutions expressing the city government’s opposition to the operation of all forms of gambling in the city over the past several years.
During his visit to the city last October, PAGCOR Chairman Naguiyat anounced that the amusement corporation will not issue casino or bingo permits to interested operators of the local governments of their desired areas of operation are not in favor of hosting legal gambling activities.
For his part, Councilor Fred Bagbagen said the inability of the e-bingo operator to complete the documentary requirements of his permit compelled some councilors to already question the legitimacy of the e-bingo operations along Marcos highway, saying that if the operator was not able to complete the needed documents, then it is but proper to close the e-bingo outlet.
“It was the subject of our discussions during Monday’s executive-legislative meeting for such e-bingo outlets to be closed,”Bagtbagen said.
Councilors Faustino Olowan and Joel Alangsab both claimed that they do not rember having signed such unumbered resolution, saying that they could not rember having affixed their signatures to such resolution which was used by the e-bingo operator to apply for PAGCOR permit.
For her part, Councilor Elaine Sembrano claimed she signed the resolution since he was assured by Mr. Tabora that the e-bingo is already sanctioned by the national government and that the amusement corporation will extend support to the implementation of various social projects of the city government.
However, Sembrano claimed that when she heard about the pronouncement of Chairman Naguiyat that PAGCOR will not issue permits to operators whose host local governments will not allow the same, she requested for the investigation of the e-bingo operations and demaned for its closure if the documents of the operation are not complete.
Other members of the city council who reportedly sigtned the unumbered resolution have yet to officially issue their statements on why their signatures appear on the document that was used to support the operator’s application for bingo permit with PAGCOR.
By Herald Express News Team